Houston is looking to close out the month of July with back-to-back wins. Several of Houston’s international players have returned from national team duty and are available for selection for the match against Gotham. Houston’s Canadian trio of Nichelle Prince, Sophie Schmidt and Allysha Chapman are returning after an appearance in the Concacaf W Championship final. Michaela Abam returns after helping Cameroon keep its World Cup hopes alive by clinching an intercontinental tournament berth. Michelle Alozie comes back after helping Nigeria qualify for the World Cup following a deep run in the WAFCON tournament.

Sunday’s match marks the first time that the two teams will meet in 2022. The last time the two teams met was almost a year ago to the day, when Houston hosted Gotham at PNC Stadium on Aug. 1. Houston and Gotham played to a 1-1 draw after midfielder Gabby Seiler scored in the opening minutes of the second half. Gotham scored the equalizer in the 89th minute, forcing the tie.

Houston is coming off a dominant 4-1 performance over the Chicago Red Stars at home on July 16. Forward Ebony Salmon scored three times in the win, notching her first career hat trick as well as her first three goals for the Dash. Salmon was acquired via trade with Racing Louisville FC on June 27. Rookie forward Joelle Anderson, a Pepperdine product, scored her first career goal in second half stoppage time. Rookie forward Ryan Gareis also earned her first career start and recorded her first career assist in the win. Goalkeeper Lindsey Harris earned her first regular season start of the season after appearing in the final game of Challenge Cup play on April 24.

Gotham is looking to bounce back from a 5-0 loss to Portland on the road on July 16. Despite maintaining possession for 53 percent of the game, Gotham struggled to keep Portland’s attack at bay. NJ/NY allowed three Thorns goals before the 15-minute mark and went into the half trailing by three goals.

With the return of several international players, Houston has released four national team replacement signings in Haley Berg, Machela George, Maegan Rosa, and Kayla Hamric. Natalie Jacobs is the remaining national team replacement player on the roster.

The Dash are back on the road the following weekend to take on OL Reign on Aug. 7 in Seattle at Lumen Field. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. CT and the game will be televised locally on AT&T SportsNet and nationally on Paramount+.

Here are three key points ahead of Friday's match:

  1. HAT TRICK HEROES: There have been three hat tricks in the NWSL this season. Two belong to the Houston Dash. Before 2022 there had never been a hat trick recorded by a Dash player. Nichelle Prince was the first to manage the feat and did so on June 3 against Orlando. A month and a half later Ebony Salmon joined her on July 16. Salmon earned NWSL Player of the Week honors for her hat trick performance, joining Prince to earn those honors during the regular season. Sunday’s match will be the first opportunity for both players to share the field following Prince’s return from international duty.
  2. INTERNATIONALS RETURNS: Six of Houston’s seven internationals have returned from international duty. Canadians Allysha Chapman, Nichelle Prince and Sophie Schmidt are back from the 2022 Concacaf W Championships in Monterrey, Mexico. The trio helped Canada reach the final against the United States. Nigerian international Michelle Alozie helped the Super Falcons clinch a World Cup berth. Houston native and Cameroonian international Michaela Abam helped Cameroon get one step closer to the FIFA World Cup by earning a berth in the continental playoff. Forward Rachel Daly is set to play in the Women’s Euro Final against Germany on July 31. Daly and the Lionesses beat Sweden 4-0 on Tuesday afternoon to make the final at Wembley stadium.
  3. GOTHAM’S DEFENSE LOOKS FOR STABILITY: Gotham’s Ashlynn Harris and the Gotham defense have allowed the third most goals this season with 16. The former United States Women’s National Team keeper currently has the highest goals against average with 2.26 goals allowed through seven games. Gotham will have a key piece of its backline returning this week with defender Estelle Johnson who was on international duty with Cameroon alongside Houston forward Michaela Abam.

The Houston Dash will be hosting a watch party double feature at The Phoenix on Westheimer for this weekend's match. At 11 a.m. CT, Dash forward Rachel Daly and the Lionesses take on Germany for the 2022 Women's Euro final. At 4 p.m. CT, the Houston Dash will face off against NJ/NY Gotham.